Lobelia 

(low-beal' ee-ah)

Common name: Lobelia

Family: Lobelia family (Lobeliaceae, listed by some botanists under Campanula family, Campanulaceae)

Height x width:3-4' x 1-2'

Growth rate, habit: moderate; upright spikes

Foliage: alternate, oblong lanceolate, short petioles, acute or acuminate tip, serrate margin

Flowers: scarlet red to blue including pink, white; bracted racemes; tubular with corolla tube to 1½", or star shaped with 6 lobes, 3 lower lobes narrow and reflexed downwards; summer 

Hardiness: zones 3-9

Soil: moist but well-drained, organic

Light: part shade in Midwest and South, sun in north

Pests and problems: leaf spots, rusts, mites

Landscape habit, uses: border, natural shade garden

Other interest: native to eastern U.S. and Canada; named for the 16th century Flemish botanist Mathias de l'Obel

Other culture: self seeds, tends to be short-lived with replacement or division every 3 years or so; heavy mulch often kills plants

Propagation: division of basal rosettes in fall, seed (350,000 seeds per ounce), terminal cuttings of some species

Species:

•cardinalis (car-di-nal' iss)--Cardinal Flower, zones 2-9, 2-4', up to 50 cardinal red flowers in summer on a raceme to 2' long, flowers open from the base to the tip (acropetally), very attractive to hummingbirds

•fulgens (full' gens)--Mexican Lobelia, zones 7-9, native to Texas and Mexico, similar to cardinalis otherwise, often with bronze to dark red foliage

•x gerardii (ger-are' dee-ii)(x hybrida)--Hybrid Purple Lobelia, zones 5-7, 3-5' tall, purple flowers in summer, hybrid of either cardinalis or speciosa 'Queen Victoria' and siphilitica

•siphilitica (si-phil-i' ti-ca)--Big Blue Lobelia, zones 4-8, 2-3' tall, blue flowers in late summer for about 4 weeks, named from supposed medicinal properties

•x speciosa (spee-cee-o' sah)--Hybrid Lobelia, zones 5-8, 3-5' tall, red or pink flowers in summer, longer lived and more tolerant of soil types and moisture than parents; hybrids of fulgens, cardinalis and siphilitica

•spicata (spii-caa' tah)--Pale Lobelia, zones 4-8, 3-5' tall; blue or purple flowers, often tinted pink, in late summer; native to northern U.S. and Canada

•splendens:fulgens
 
 (photos courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plantfinder unless noted)

Cultivars:
 
Cultivars species flowers other
'Alba' cardinalis white  
'Alba' siphilitica white  
'Bees' Flame' x speciosa vermillion-red beet red foliage
Butterfly hybrids x gerardii blue, rose  
Compliment hybrids x speciosa red, pink, bluish, purple from seed, 3-4'
'Dark Crusader' x speciosa blood red dark purple foliage
Fan hybrids x speciosa bright scarlet dark green, 2'
'Illumination' fulgens deep scarlet bronze foliage
'Pink Flamingo' x speciosa rosy-pink, late leaves as siphilitica
'Queen Victoria' x speciosa brilliant red bronze foliage, popular
'Ruby Slippers' x speciosa bright garnet red robust habit
'Russian Princess' x speciosa bright reddish purple purple foliage
'Tania' x speciosa rosy lavender, late silvery green foliage, 3'
'Vedariensis' x gerardii dark violet reddish green foliage
       


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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